Lorraine discovered 40+Style while searching Google and so did Rita. During one of my style challenges (which evolved into my style course) they connected through the comments and then became great online friends. They decided to take that friendship one step further and met in LA. Here is Lorraine’s story. Please note that Rita is camera shy and does not share her photos but there are plenty to admire from Lorraine.
Planning an adventure!
When Rita and I googled ‘capri pants’ from either side of the Atlantic more than two years ago we never dreamt we would meet and go on holiday together. Our internet search led us both to 40plusstyle (this article) and we soon signed up for Sylvia’s 2013 new year style challenge. As we followed each other’s progress through the challenge we discovered shared humour and interests and asked Sylvia if she could put us in touch directly, which she was happy to do.
Many emails later we discussed meeting up, either in the UK where I live, or the USA, specifically Washington DC, home of Rita. However, an excuse arose to meet in Los Angeles in the shape of a cat convention – which appealed to our sense of fun and shared love of cats! – and we decided to build our trip around that.
I had visited LA twice but Rita had lived there and still travels to her company’s LA office so she was excited to show me around. There is so much to do there that we had a hard task deciding but Rita managed to produce a detailed itinerary for the week to make the most of our time together. It included shopping, culture, the coast, eating…and of course, CatConLA!
When I go away I like to take new items as well as old favourites and still have some choice, so I never travel light. While Rita managed admirably with a carry on case, my suitcase weighed in at 17.4 kilos and went in the hold. With the generous luggage allowance of 23kg I figured I could buy more clothes when I was there and still get on the plane home!
For my 11 hour flight I wore skinny jeans a striped tee shirt with a slouchy cardigan and sandals. Rita also travelled in jeans and teamed them with her kitty Vans, appropriate for the cat convention.
Outfit details: Uniqlo skinny jeans and striped Esprit tee shirt with slouchy Next cardigan and Dorothy Perkins sandals.
Rita travelled out the day before me so that she could spend the day at her LA office before picking me up at the airport. After a long wait while I went through passport control, we met face to face for the very first time! So exciting! After freshening up at the hotel – The Doubletree Hilton, a business hotel near the airport in El Segundo – we went straight to a nearby restaurant, The California Fish Grill, for fish tacos, and talked and talked!
A little culture and a lovely tea were the order of the day as we eased into our holiday. The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades was built by John Paul Getty and recreates a beautiful Roman villa complete with water features, decorated walls and statues. Sadly, many of the water features had been drained to conserve water during the severe drought conditions plaguing California at this time. We spent some time looking at the collection of antiquities and then enjoyed ‘Tea by the Sea’ – three tiers of delicious morsels – followed by a culinary tour of the herb gardens. In the evening we ate at Rock’n Fish restaurant in Manhattan Beach.
Rita and I headed up the coast to the lovely town of Santa Monica, stopping off at Venice Beach and Muscle Beach (where the body builders hang out) en route. In Santa Monica we lunched healthily at True Food Kitchen and then explored the shops, including some thrift and consignment stores. Encouraged by Rita and the excellent prices, I made a number of purchases! (more on those in another article). In the evening we ate at the appropriately named The Hungry Cat restaurant, Santa Monica, where I had a lobster roll and fries.
Outfit details: White self-coloured applique top, Zara, thrifted; blue patterned skirt, ebay; cotton cardigan, New Look.
Outfit details: Navy lace tee shirt, TK Maxx; patterned 7/8th trousers, Primark; nude sandals, Clarks)
Downtown LA’s The Reef was the setting for CatConLA, billed as ComicCon for cat people, and we were surprised to see a long queue of cat lovers around the block, waiting to be admitted. The event was packed with interesting merchandise and colourful characters, and Rita got to meet celebrity cat Lil’ Bub while I attended a talk on cat lady style! (More on the event in another article). The event proved so popular that the catering vans ran out of food so we headed back to The California Fish Grill for an early dinner, followed by two hours browsing at Yaya’s, a favourite jewellery shop and boutique of Rita’s, to fill out the evening.
Outfit details: White capris, George, thrifted; pink, white and yellow top, Boden, dress agency.
Ford’s Filling Station, the restaurant run by Harrison Ford’s son, was the venue for a delicious Sunday lunch. The restaurant is located in the atrium of the Marriot Hotel near Downtown LA. Before that Rita did a great job of driving around the area, which encompasses the flower and fashion districts as well as the cinema and theatre district of Broadway. It has a completely different feel to the rest of LA and is often the backdrop to movies, as are some of the old buildings. We then worked up an appetite by wandering round the LA Live entertainment complex, the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center.
That evening we met up with a couple of Rita’s friends and had an amazing meal at Captain Kidd’s Fish Market, Redondo Beach. You pick the fish you want and choose the way it’s cooked!
Outfit details: Pink tee shirt, Primark; graphic floral flounced skirt, unknown make, thrifted; cotton cardigan, New Look.
Outfit details: River Island patterned trousers and a sequinned peach tee.
After a stroll along the beach front and a bread basket breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, Manhattan Beach, we set off for Hollywood. Hoping to spot a star or two we drove along Mulholland Drive, where I found a tennis ball belonging to long-time resident Jack Nicholson (well maybe!) and lunched at Laurel Canyon Country Store.
Driving along the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains, Mullholland Drive offers some of the most fantastic views of the San Fernando Valley, Downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, and movie central itself, Universal City. We then cruised west on the Sunset Strip and parked on North Bedford Drive , where we walked past the former homes of stars such as silent movie actress Clara Bow, into Beverly Hills. Once in the heart of Beverly Hills, we walked the length of Rodeo Drive, getting away with purchasing nothing but an iced tea for Rita at Starbucks.
As we were strolling along a tourist bus stopped and the occupants shouted ‘Are you famous?’ ‘Of course’, I responded! Queue the clicking of cameras!
Outfit details: Cream top, Precis, thrifted; pencil skirt, Zara, old.
I did a quick change for our evening meal at Crustacean in Beverley Hills, famous for its garlic noodles and seafood. I had visited the restaurant twice before and the first time was sat next to Warren Beatty. There were no stars this time except for the food – the noodles and a Dungeness crab hit the spot! There was also an unusually delicious ginger ice cream and sour apple sorbet for dessert.
Outfit details: Small patterned animal print shift dress, Pure Collection, ebay.
One of the highlights of our holiday was a visit to The Getty Centre. The stunning contemporary buildings, set on a hill, house famous works of art and are surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens. After a tour of the gardens we took in the major works of art including Van Gogh’s Irises.
We then continued up the coast to Santa Monica, where we got caught in the rain and had to dry off in Nordstrom department store. Rita was keen to eat dinner at The Ivy by the Shore, and it proved to be a great choice – the interior was filled with multi coloured roses and beautiful china and the seafood risotto was amazing!
Outfit details: Striped dress, TK Maxx; necklace, British Home Stores; shoes, Next; cotton cardigan, New Look.
My last day and one last look at the beach and some nearby shops, where the Ann Taylor sale saw a couple more purchases! Keen to make up for the rain on the previous day we set out for Marina del Rey to find some backdrops for more photographs. Pleased with our choice we carried on to Santa Monica again, where I struck lucky at a consignment store. Before returning to the hotel we popped into Yaya’s jewellery store again, where I bought some stunning earrings which I will treasure as a souvenir of my trip.
Sadly it was time to leave and Rita made sure I negotiated the airport safely for my night flight back to London. We were sad to part but are determined to do another trip soon!
Outfit details: Blue, white and yellow dress, Monsoon, thrifted; peep toe booties, Steve Madden).